This was my first show at Bush Hall, and had I not been walking with someone who knew where we were going, I probably would have walked past the entrance. Past innumerable hair shops (and a really good pub) on Uxbridge Road was the modest doorway into Bush Hall.
We got in and weaved through a portion of the crowd that filled up Bush Hall, a spacious yet intimate room with lovely Rococo ceiling detail. It got quite warm in the hall, given the full audience and the apparent lack of ventilation.
Alessi’s Ark started her performance with her friend on backing guitar. Alessi Laurent-Marke gave a lovely performance, despite the ceaseless chatter among the audience–mostly towards the back–which I thought was a bit unfortunate. The music of Alessi’s Ark is very darling, filled with a shy and earnest charm. She’s opening for Laura Marling on at least a couple shows next month in the UK, so if you haven’t had a chance to do so, and you like your indie folk feminine with a heavy dose of wide-eyed wonder, you may enjoy her.
Because I was having difficulty seeing Alessi perform during her act, in-between acts the suggestion was put forth to move up closer, since I’m such a shorty. Bush Hall is very flat. There was a balcony/mezzanine area towards the back of the hall, but already my companion and I were in the thick of the hot crowd, so the only way forward was to move forward, which we did until the crowd didn’t seem to allow us to go any further. There was seriously a gigantic beanstalk next to where I was standing, and I was utterly paranoid he was going to somehow wind up standing in front of me, but luckily, this was not so.
Kristian Matsson sauntered onto the stage, giving a sort of suspicious pirate glare at the crowd as he swigged from his bottle of beer. It was quite an entrance that seemed to have a lot more bravado than when I had seen him in Orlando last year opening for John Vanderslice. I think it was quite amusing.
So, the performance was quite lively and fantastic, punctuated by moments when Matsson would talk to the crowd. At one point, a man in the crowd shouted ‘I love you!’ to the performer. Everything stopped, and you can see Matsson’s face twist into this serious, stern facade as he slowly approached the microphone and asked, ‘What?’ It was comical, but what was interesting about these moments is that you never really knew if Matsson was joking with the crowd, or if he really acted this peculiar way, or if this is him being The Tallest Man on Earth.
I’ve been asked by friends unfamiliar with Kristian Matsson, so I will say no, he is not really very tall. I don’t think he reaches up to 6 ft, but his performances–the way he moves so kinetically to the point where at times he seems to nearly be trying to shake out of his skin–are very big.
Because the staff at Bush Hall did not make me check my camera at the door, I was able to take a few shots of The Tallest Man on Earth. I didn’t take very many, as I normally only like taking a very small handful of photos at an event, because I don’t wish to bother other people around me with the clicking of a camera, and also I because I came to a show to enjoy the performance. A few photos, then I’m done. The performance from The Tallest Man on Earth was definitely interesting and enjoyable, and he will be coming back to London on the 9th of June, and during the performance at Bush Hall, he said, ‘You know what? Next time, I’m gonna bring the banjo! Yeah.’
So yeah, they may get the banjo over at the Tabernacle in June, but we got to meet, in a way, Matsson’s ‘lovely friend Amanda,’ a young woman who did a duet with him on stage, which was quite a treat unless you were a young woman in the audience (or man, for that matter, like the guy who yelled out earlier) who was smitten with The Tallest Man on Earth. Heartbreak rippled through the crowd, as Matsson and Lovely Friend Amanda squeezed close to a lone microphone, or at least so it went in my imagination. Still, it was quite a performance, with a stunning final song that may be from his new album, which is something definitely to be excited about.